Thursday, March 24, 2011

Design 2014 - Aqua 30

This little 1/2 tonner was built on a production basis by Aquafibre International Yachts of England, starting in 1969. Also known as the S&S 30, these are tough little boats were built of solid frp and under Lloyd's supervision. These boats were also sold in America and marketed as the PJ-30 (Palmer Johnson).

Here are the plans.

It's a nice looking set of Lines.

Principal Dimensions
LOA 29'-11"
LWL 20'-0"
Beam 9'-0"
Draft 5'-5"
Displacement 6,492 lbs
Ballast 3,120 lbs
Sail Area 393 sq ft


  1. The S&S30 is a quick boat too. Her hull length limits her to just over 7 kts but downwind she benefits from slightly widers aft sections giving her good stability but the ability to surf at over 9 knots. In light airs she suffers as they were quite heavily built but upwind with 12 knots plus she leaves boats 10 feet longer than her for dead both in speed and angle to windward.
    She has plenty of headroom down below but suffers from the forepeak being too small for anything other than storage or a very small V-berth.
    The engine is small (Yanmar 2GM) but frankly the boat sails so well that to motor would be a crying shame.
    In terms of construction we have found her achilles heel is the practise of using mild steel fixings with stainless bolts going throught them. 40 years after being commissioned much of the mild steel has degraded and crumbled to nothing and badly needed replacing.

  2. I own one of these and have not come across any mild steel fasteners. Where are the "fixings" you speak of located in the boat?

  3. There are 2 places that I have found so far. Under the deck the chain plates are mild steel. This had suffered water ingression and was very firable and the deck was lifting. I was lucky not to lose the mast.
    The second place I have found is below decks where 2 x stainless struts bolt either side of the mast into the cabin top. The bolts are stainless but the securing points, which are glassed in were standard steel.
    Where do you keep yours? Mine is called Niki and is moored in Dartmouth. Don't see my observations as complaints. She is 40 years old and still beats to windward like no other boat and is wonderfully exhilarating to sail. For a small family she makes short work of coastal passages, is a comfortable and safe small cruising boat and, I suspect, still a contender around the cans - especially when the breeze fills in.

  4. Agree with all above having previously owned one for 25 years. Have done Helford to Scilly in a F7 on the nose and travelled back from Falmouth to Plymouth with a 50 Kt following wind and huge seas. Former wet, but no problems at all, latter exhausting!! The very low CG on account of the 1.4 ton lead keel and firm bilge make it exceptionally stiff. Cuts through the water like a knife. Best point of sail was probably in a F6 with No3 Genoa, fast, close winded, but wet when she fell of a wave. Such an exhilarating boat to sail, safe, responsive and as must be expected for those attributes on that length, very "cosy" below. Required careful setting up of mast and bend for optimum results! Compact, but best galley at sea I have ever used (when fitted with a gas cooker)!! Didn't know about the mild steel. I fitted Yanmar too. The original Albin was inaudible on deck and ticked like a sewing machine down below; very, very quiet. Furling Genoa made for much easier sailing, significantly reducing the performance, but making for easy all weather single handled sailing (fitted with radar) when the crew left home. Only small yacht I have seen with no stanchion mounting cracks. Lovely, lovely boat.

  5. OMG, the chainplates are not stainless? What passes up through the deck is clearly SS, but you are saying this is welded to a mild steel horizontal portion? Thank God this is a 100% freshwater boat. But I will check them regardless. My sidedeck was lifting on one side as well, but inspection revealed that the deck had detached from the knees on that side. I can't see how a rusting chainplate would cause the deck to lift. I'm currently redoing the overhead and I do see the mild steel fastening point for the struts that you speak of.
    We are on Lake Michigan. Agree with you; what a great-sailing boat. Would you provide your e-mail address? The only other S&S 30 I know of is in Germany.

  6. I did a little minor surgery on my boat today and am happy to report that the chainplates are NOT mild steel as reported above. Without a doubt they are stainless, and as bright as the day they were glassed in forty years ago.

  7. hello owners of an S&S30,

    last year I bought an S&S30. I named her "Mees", after my son who died in a traffic accident two years ago at the age of 15.

    I sailed her at the Nort Sea (I'm from the Netherlands) F7 downwind and she behaved very well. Some 20 years ago her keel and rudder were lengtened after a special design from Sparkman and Stephens. Here stability is unrivelled.

    Could anyone tell where the mild steel plates are located? I guess they are galssed in under the deck to hold the stays? Right there the deck has lifted just a little bit.

    The struts below deck are indeed bolted with stainless steel bolts on mild stees plates, glassed in the roof of the cabin.

    thanks for your reply!

    Willem (

  8. No, Willem, they are not mild steel, thankfully. As stated above, I cut away some of the glass to expose one of these ("chainplate" is the English term for the "shroud" (not "stay") attachment point) and it is without doubt stainless steel. My side deck was also lifting; inspection revealed that the problem was detachment of the under-deck from the three "knees" on that side. This fault has nothing to do with the material composition of the chainplates.

    Owen McCall (

  9. Thank you Owen. I also noticed the detachment of under deck and knees. I loosened the rigging, but the deck didn't lower. So I just put lots of extra fibre glass to the joint of knees and under deck, hoping it will hold things together and the mast upright!

  10. Ref the chainplates. I'll send the photos that I took at the time. I know that Niki was re-rigged by the previous owner and perhaps they tightented the bottle-screws overly causing an ingression of water and some corrosive action to take place. Otherwise I am not sure why mine would be so different from Owen's boat.

    On another point has anyone replaced the fuel tank. I think that the diesel tank has a hole in it, probably as the boat lay ashore and unused for 5 years with the tanks neither full nor empty so some corrosion has invariably taken place. It is a bugger to get at (aren't all things on small boats). The Yanmar engine appears sound with no leaks. Similarly I had to take out the galvanised water tanks as they were holed and replaced them with flexible bladders as replacing them with the same tapered shape was exorbitantly expensive.


  11. Curious that the waterline length on the drawings provided here for the Aqua 30 is 21', yet your list of dimensions states only 20'.

  12. Maine Know-It-AllMarch 12, 2012 at 7:47 AM

    Wasn't the highly regarded S&S 34 built by Aquafibre, too? Seems like quite an omission.

  13. Well, dear Aqua sailors, I just found out: my chainplates are made of mild steel and are completely gone. I'm afraid a lot of work is waiting for me. Owen, you are a lucky guy. But I see you also are a handy one. What a marvellous job you did on your 'Exeat'. I completely repainted my 'Mees'.

  14. Hello dear Aqua owners!
    I'm a new owner and just bought a ship from 1970 in good condition. I can't see any signs of deformation on the side deck where chainplates are. Is it possible to detect it from inside? Can someone please send some pics to me?